Investigation started on reported discrimination at Karolinska University Hospital

News

An external investigation has been started at Karolinska University Hospital based on a report of discrimination on the grounds of anti-Semitism. The investigation is being done by an external law firm and is due to be completed by December 17th. In the event of the final report not being ready on this date a preliminary report will be delivered together with a plan for remaining actions and a date for completion of the final report. Karolinska University Hospital has a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment, discrimination and victimization; the hospital works actively with prevention.

In February 2018 an employee filed a complaint of anti-Semitic discrimination to the former CEO at Karolinska University Hospital. The alleged discrimination occurred at a unit within a main division at the hospital where actions are already being taken to address known issues with the general working environment. The hospital leadership at Karolinska University Hospital have clearly communicated to staff and external stakeholders that they are very concerned about this report of discrimination on anti-Semitic grounds and that their firm intention is to address this issue with speed and focus.

- Zero tolerance against any type of harassment or discrimination and the equal value of all human beings are without question fundamental principles in our organisation and towards our patients, says Annika Tibell, Acting CEO, Karolinska University Hospital.

As it was previously known that the unit in question had experienced work environment related issues, actions were taken already in 2017. The issue regarding discrimination on the grounds of anti-Semitism was reported to the former CEO in February 2018. Regarding this specific complaint a number of actions have been taken since February, in consultation with the human resources department and hospital lawyers. An initial follow-up of the situation was conducted within the unit during spring 2018. At that point a more extensive investigation by an external party was deemed necessary. For this purpose, the hospital has contracted a law firm with the required competence in this area.

The physician against whom the complaint has been brought is currently on a "time out" from the position at the hospital. The unit head has also chosen to take a "time out" from the line management position whilst the external investigation is ongoing.

Acting CEO Annika Tibell has in recent weeks had meetings with representatives from the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism (SKMA) and with representatives from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. The purpose of these meetings has been to even further increase understanding of surrounding issues regarding anti-Semitism.

The results from Karolinska University Hospital's employee survey became available this week. The survey results form the basis for the systematic efforts around the working environment at the hospital and all units create their own action plans based on this. This year, extra focus will be placed on the questions of harassment, discrimination and victimization.

- The situation that has come to light is indeed a very serious one and only emphasizes the importance of our continuous focus on core values and how we relate to each other. The equal value of all human beings and zero tolerance against harassment and discrimination are and must be fundamental principles for all of us at Karolinska University Hospital, concludes Annika Tibell.

Facts

Flood Herslow Holme Attorney's Office (FHH) will investigate reports of anti-Semitism and improper conduct at a unit within Karolinska University Hospital. FHH will investigate whether a reported person, and / or any other persons at the workplace, has acted unfairly in relation to employees and particularly in relation to a specific employee (the complainant) on the grounds of anti-Semitism. The investigation will include, amongst other areas, whether any member of staff and, in particular, a specific employee (the complainant), have been directly or indirectly disadvantaged in the context of their employment due to anti-Semitism, and whether any employee and especially a specific employee (the complainant) have been harassed due to anti-Semitism in connection with the workplace. Finally, FHH will review follow-up and actions taken by the hospital and whether these actions have been relevant and adequate.